The Top 10 Best Wii Games (Not Published By Nintendo)

The Wii is dead. The Wii U will be arriving in a couple months, and the Wii release schedule has been a wind-swept ghost town for well over a year now. The most successful console of this generation is finished, which means it’s time for a bunch of “Top-X Wii Games” retrospectives!

These are the five games that will top 95% of these lists — Zelda: Twilight Princess, Zelda: Skyward Sword, Mario Galaxy, Mario Galaxy 2 and Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Some lists might put Zelda on top. Some might go with Mario.

As I’ve mentioned before, I did something weird with my Wii — I actually played it. Hell, I even kept it relatively well dusted. So instead of running down the small handful of Nintendo-published games everybody played, I thought I’d do a list of the best Wii games that nobody played. The 3rd party stuff. The weird stuff. The stuff that’s probably available for 10-bucks (or under) at a bargain bin near you…

Note – I’m sticking to stuff that was exclusive (or at least mostly exclusive) to the Wii for this list. So yeah, something like Rock Band 2, which was a good game and not published by Nintendo, won’t be listed here.

A bizarre little cell-shaded RPG in which you play as a vacant-eyed, round headed little kid who fights by tossing the piece of candy that floats above his head into monsters’ faces. The game actually has a fairly ambitious open-world structure, featuring complex cities that are among the largest I’ve ever seen in a Japanese RPG. There are also surprisingly deep job and friendship systems to explore. Also also, the soundtrack is kind of crazily good.

I’ve never played a game quite like this, and I probably never will again. The setting is post-apocalyptic and straight out of a survival horror game, but the enemies are mostly non-threatening (if somewhat creepy) and the game’s not particularly challenging (your greatest foe is the somewhat frustrating controls). Instead you mainly spend your time wandering alone, collecting objects and scraps of paper, each of which gives you a bit of backstory about a person who once lived in the world. More often than not these stories are f–king heartbreaking. A great experience, just be forewarned — it will make you feel feelings other than “satisfaction with having shot something”.

A remake of the Playstation original, Klonoa stands as one of the Wii’s best 2D platformers. No small feat considering the system was home to new Mario, Donkey Kong and Kirby 2D platformers.

Atlus’ Trauma Center titles were novel, simple little games that had you performing operations via the DS touchscreen or the Wiimote. With Trauma Team Atlus massively expanded on the whole concept — there were now four completely different types of surgery to engage in, as well as adventure game flavored “Diagnosis” and “Forensics” modes. Trauma Team was four to five times as large as any previous Trauma Centre game, looked better, sounded better and had a wonderfully deranged storyline, and yet it sold so poorly it pretty much killed the Trauma series. Did switching out the word “Center” for “Team” in the title really confuse that many people?

Gorgeous hand-painted graphics, top-notch action and deep RPG elements, Muramasa had it all. Sadly it also had a fairly terrible localization courtesy of Ignition Entertainment, but understanding what’s going on isn’t really that important when a game’s as beautiful and fun as this.

The Wii’s WiiWare download service was mostly a garbageware wasteland, but it was home to a few gems, most notably the LostWinds games. These 2D action-adventure titles were beautiful, fun, incredibly relaxing and made great use of the Wiimote. How developer Frontier managed to craft these little gems without exceeding WiiWare’s miniscule 40 MB file limit, I have no idea.

With the possible exception of Skyward Sword (which came out four years after Zack and Wiki) no Wii game made better use of the Wiimote. Even without the Wiimote stuff, this was a fun, super difficult, aggressively wacky Japanese adventure game. Sadly today the title’s mainly known as “the game that flopped so hard 3rd parties were scared off for the rest of the Wii’s lifespan”.

Pikmin mixed with RPG, city sim and tower defense elements, Little King’s Story was one of the most unique and refreshing titles on the Wii. It was also really f–king adorable.

One of the more unexpected things spawned by the Wii was a minor resurgence of the rail shooter genre. By the time Dead Space: Extraction came along, most people were weary of Wii rail shooters, which is a shame because Dead Space: Extraction is so, so, so much better than any other Wii rail shooter. Hell, maybe any rail shooter ever. Gripping and challenging throughout, Extraction also boasts the best presentation of any game on the Wii. Not so sure about what EA’s doing with Dead Space 3? Give Extraction a try — you might be surprised.

So, Silent Hill: Downpour recently came out and most of the reviews I read acted like Silent Hill: Homecoming was the last Silent Hill game to come before it. Usually nobody in the comments would complain about this. I’ve never seen anything like it — an entry in a well-known series just being collectively forgotten. It’s even weirder, because Shattered Memories was really goddamn good.

This game’s main hook is that it psychoanalyzes you the entire time you’re playing in both obvious (psychiatric tests given between stages) and not so obvious ways (the things you look at and choose to examine will also be factored in). The game is constantly building a psychological profile for you, and changing elements to the game in response.

Aside from the psychoanalysis, the game is just a really well done survival horror game. The controls are actually great, and the game takes the “fighting monsters is futile” theme from the early Silent Hill games to it’s logical extreme — you can’t fight the monsters in this game. Running and hiding are the only options, and it really ups the tension.

Creepy, thought provoking and legitimately mature, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories was easily one of the best horror games of this generation.